I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about a lot of things. One of the pitfalls of depression is that everything just slides out of control on you, because you are overwhelmed with all that needs to happen. The tendency is to retreat, retreat, retreat. And that’s pretty much what I have done for the past couple of years.
Another thing that happens with depression, is that it gets harder to pick out your own true motivations. Recently, I realized that although the depression is lifting, I am still holding on to some rather bad habits, and I set about to explore in my own mind *why*. I mean, while it is true that I am as lazy as the next person, I am generally able to identify a job, make a plan of attack and see it through to the end, but that just wasn’t happening. I looked at my kids and I looked at the house, and I thought that both of them needed some serious reigning in, and why am I not doing that?
What I realized is kinda funny, not in a haha way, but just in a “my mind is weird way”. I
am was using the messy house and unruly children as a barrier between myself and what comes next. See, I don’t want to live the rest of my life alone. If you look back to the posts I was writing as my marriage was falling apart, it should be fairly obvious that I still believe in love, I still believe in happily ever after, still believe in forever. But I am soooo not ready for any of that stuff yet. Just. Not. Ready. to be so involved with anyone that they have the power to tear me apart.
Now, I knew that in order to invite a man to be part of my life in any meaningful way, I had to be on my game. Life needed to be in some reasonable kind of order. I mean, life will always be somewhat chaotic with this many children, but chaos needs to be contained. A house that is chronically messy and children who do not listen and take me seriously the first time I speak are pretty good man deterrents, right? And I knew that, have known that for awhile. And yet, I could not make myself bring those areas under control.
But living in a mess undermines everything I need to teach my children about going on with life, and how to take pride in themselves and take care of business. And allowing them to not listen and set their own standards of behavior teaches them that there is no higher authority than their own wicked desires. I’m not bashing my kids here, the Bible tells us that the heart of man is desperately wicked and who can know it. It also tells us that even a child is known by his doings, whether they be good and right. So, here I was, working at cross-purposes to my own life goals: healthy, well adjusted children and a home we can all be comfortable in.
All that is fairly normal, but here was the breakthrough moment: I can get the house under control, and I can spend time with my children, teaching them about loving authority and I can still say I’m just not ready. I just don’t trust myself or anyone else enough right now to move any further in relationships than I already have. This is the very edge of my comfort zone, and I can’t move from here. And I hope that’s ok with you (that’s a general and hypothetical you) because this is where I am, and I am likely to be here for awhile. I can use my mouth to protect myself instead of subverting myself through inaction.
Now, I knew better than to set myself up for failure by tackling the whole house at once. This is going to be about building new habits and creating a new normal for me and the children. One of the main areas of downfall for me was the dishes. That is my job, but I would put it off until it became a major chore, instead of doing them right after supper. And of course, when I did that, everyone else left the kitchen, too and so no one except the designated cook was actually doing their kitchen job. So, on the 6th, after hashing out all this mental stuff with my bossfriend, I came home and washed my dishes. All of them. And I have done the dishes every night since then. Even the day I left half my intestines in the bathroom. Even the day I had to go to court and ended up with a migraine so bad I couldn’t drive. Even the nights I had scouts. Even the nights we had ball practices. Every night for 11 nights so far.
That means I am halfway to the new and improved habit of normalized kitchen maintenance. I am figuring that we as a family will continue to just relearn proper kitchen-ing through the month of March. In April, we’ll continue with our kitchen skills and I will pick another room to relearn for all of us. It will probably take me a year to feel like I have a handle on everything, at least. And if, at the end of that year, I am still not ready to move on to whatever is next, I can still say “I’m not ready”. And that will be ok, cause I will be saying it with an under-control house and wonderful children. It’ll be like mental Fastin, eliminating one self defeating behavior at a time.